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Malabar Farm State Park, located near Mansfield, Ohio, is a popular outdoor destination to hike, ride horses, fish, and watch the sunset from Mt. Jeez.
Malabar Farm was home to Pulitzer Prize winner, Louis Bromfield and has been a historic landmark since 1939. Bromfield built his 32-room home, named the “Big House”, in the gently rolling hills of the Pleasant Valley in Richland County, just south of Mansfield.
Not only was Bromfield a notable author, but he is also known as a conservationist. Many of the farming techniques he practiced to produce rich, fertile soil are still in practice today on this working farm.
Malabar Farm State Park has long been a favorite destination for my family. My kids have grown up petting the miniature horse that used to be in the barn, feeding the hens in the chicken yard and attending the annual Maple Syrup Festival and Fall Heritage Days, festivals that draw visitors from all over the state of Ohio.
Malabar Farm still holds its appeal, even though my little ones have now grown into young adults. In a few years, they could be visiting with little ones of their own. We visit less as a family now as my kids hike the trails and enjoy the sunset from the Mount Jeez overlook on their own.
15 Things to do with the Family at Malabar Farm State Park
1. Visit the exhibits in the Visitor Center to learn about farming, local wildlife and the sustainability practices implemented at Malabar Farm State Park.
Note: The Visitor Center is currently closed for renovations.
2. Attend a festival. In addition to the popular Maple Syrup Festival and Heritage Days that I already mentioned, Malabar Farm is home to several more popular events. For a full list, visit their website.
3. Follow the Shawshank Trail. The opening scene of the movie was filmed at Malabar Farm State Park.
4. Take a hike. Malabar Farm has 12 miles of trails for hiking or horseback riding. Our favorite trail is the Butternut Trail, an easy hike that leads to a small cave that you can walk through. The cool temperatures inside the cave feel wonderful on a hot summer day.
5. Tour the 32-room Big House. This is the home where Louis Bromfield penned some of his many books and welcomed Hollywood sweethearts, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart who wed at the base of his grand staircase.
6. Go stargazing.
7. Spend the night camping in the primitive campground.
8. Go fishing.
9. Grab your skis and head out for some cross-country skiing.
11. Visit the highest point on the farm at Mt. Jeez Overlook, which is especially scenic during the fall.
12. Pack a picnic lunch and eat at one of the picnic areas.
13. Shop in the unique store in the Visitor Center for a souvenir or make your own at the pressed penny machine.
14. Grab your camera and set out on foot to get some photographs.
15. Take a wagon ride around the property to learn more about the history of the farm and see how the forward-thinking and sustainable farming practices of Louis Bromfield have been implemented and how they affect Malabar Farm.
Tips for Visiting Malabar Farm State Park
Don’t be surprised if you lose your cell signal when visiting Malabar Farm State Park or when exploring the surrounding area. I have Verizon and my coverage runs from non-existent to spotty.
Depending on your interest level, you can spend less than an hour to all day in the park. My family typically spends an hour and a half if we’re stopping by for a quick hike.
To make the most of your visit, peruse the Malabar Farm State Park website before arriving or call ahead (see below) to inquire about daily tours. I suggest starting in the Visitor Center, opting for either a house tour or farm tour, taking a hike on the Butternut Trail, and taking in the sunset from the top of Mt. Jeez.
Address: 4050 Bromfield Road Lucas, Ohio 44843
Cost: Entrance to the park is free but there is a fee to tour the home and to take a wagon tour.
For a detailed list of hours visit the website: http://www.malabarfarm.org/index.php/maps/park-information